Sustainable Cities™

Thomas Sieverts: The prerequisite of a sustainable city is beauty

According to Thomas Sieverts the most important thing that a sustainable city has to have is beauty. Because if something is not beautiful or not meaningful people do not take care of it and do not develop responsibility and they forget about it.

How would you define the sustainable city of the future?

The most important thing that a sustainable city has to have is beauty. Because if something is not beautiful or not meaningful people do not take care of it and do not develop responsibility and they forget about it. Things that do not stick to memory in a positive way or at least in a stimulating way will never be taking care of.

So, I think that one of the prerequisites of a sustainable city is beauty. Another thing: If people do not have a direct bodily or kinesthetic relation to their city they will never develop responsibility. The sustainable city is not so much about the 'hardware' of the city but the very behavior of the city and how people treat the city. The sustainable city is about behavior and about creating a simple set of rules that educate people to act and behave in a sustainable way. 
 

What are the most promising projects that would make living in cities more sustainable?

I think there are few very promising projects - and promising cities in Germany - cities that really make sustainability part of their urban culture and part of their character. Freiburg is one of them especially because of its urbane settlements. The people living there are like pioneers in the lokal society developing something new: a cohabitation environment, behavior and lifestyle.

Secondly. In TÜbingen groups of people have built their own urban environment not just single houses but apartments as well all in the same. So, there are a number of very hopeful initiatives in Germany, but in Denmark as well concerning food production and planning. In Berlin they have beautiful projects like the Princess Garden where you find 'urban agriculture' in pots. 
 

About Thomas Sieverts:

TomSieverts1 Thomas Sieverts (born 1934) is a German architect and urban planner. He studied architecture and urban design in Stuttgart, Liverpool, and Berlin between 1955 and 1962. He became an assistant lecturer at the Technical University of Berlin. In 1965 he formed the "Freie Planungsgruppe Berlin", becoming Professor of Urban Design at the Hochschule der bildenden Künste, Berlin, between 1967 and 1970. He was briefly a guest professor in the Urban Design Program at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.He was the Professor of Urban Design at the Technical University Darmstadt from 1971 to 1999, and worked also as a Professor at the School of Town Planning, University of Nottingham, from 1984 to 1989. He served as Scientific Director for the International Building Exhibition (IBA), Emscher Park, Gelsenkirchen from 1989 to 1994, and Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin from 1995 to 1996. He is currently a partner in S.K.A.T., Architekten und Stadtplaner, which began in 2000.

He is the author of the book Zwischenstadt (1997). First published in English in 2000 as Cities without Cities. The book addresses the decentralization of the compact historical European city and examines the new form of urbanity which has spread across the world describable as the urbanised landscape or the landscaped city. Sieverts calls this the Zwischenstadt, or "in-between city", as it exists between old historical city centres and open countrysides, between place as a living space and the non-places of movement, between small local economic cycles and the dependency on the world market. In 2008 a group calling itself "suddenly" commissioned the American writer Diana George to make a new translation of Zwischenstadt which they published as Where We Live Now (the English phrase George chose as the translation of Sieverts's neologism "Zwischenstadt"). In October 2008, Sieverts came to Portland, Oregon, on the occasion of the book's publication to take part in a week-long symposium about his work.
 

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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